Verizon and Intrado partner on next-generation 911 offering
Ultimate goal is to support multimedia communications, but not until procedural issues are resolved
How soon 911 operators will be able to receive video or text messages is anyone’s guess. But Verizon today took a step in that direction, announcing a plan to work with 911 technology developer Intrado on a nationwide next-generation 911 offering. The partners also announced that they are upgrading the public safety answering point in Denco Area 911 district in Texas to eventually support next-generation 911.
The new offering that Denco is deploying and that is also available to other PSAPs nationwide will use end-to-end IP communications in place of the traditional circuit-switched voice connectivity currently used for 911, enabling the communications link to handle video and text messages, Verizon Director of Product Management for Contact Center and Emergency Communications Services Alla Reznik told Connected Planet. The reason the initial implementation will not support multimedia is not a limitation of the technology but rather a procedural issue, Reznik said.
Complex procedural issues
Many entities, including local, state and federal governments, as well as service providers on the wireline and wireless side and software providers must get together to agree on procedures for handling multimedia 911 communications before the PSAPs can implement that capability, Reznik said. She estimated that when such issues are resolved, the implementation process could take as little as 12 months or as long as five years.
Chuck Vick, manager of emergency communications product management for Verizon, added that the National Emergency Number Association and the Emergency Services Interconnection Forum are working to resolve these sorts of issues.
What’s available today
In the initial deployment with Denco, the IP communications capability will support non-emergency text 911 services that will enable citizens to send non-emergency messages using four- or five-digit codes, Reznik said.
Intrado’s role will be to provide cloud-based software that, among other things, will determine which PSAP should receive each emergency communication. Verizon will provide PSAP connectivity using its IP-MPLS network. The solution will be compatible with similar solutions that may be offered by other providers, said Reznik.
The voice-grade lines that connect today’s PSAPs are typically provided by the incumbent local exchange carrier, but with next-generation 911 requiring IP connectivity, that role could shift more toward operators of nationwide IP-MPLS networks such as Verizon.
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